Friday, September 19, 2008

Milupi demands remedy to UNZA's financial ills

Milupi demands remedy to UNZA's financial ills
By Mwala Kalaluka and Margaret Phiri
Friday September 19, 2008 [04:00]

THE Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Charles Milupi on Wednesday observed that the weak financial controls at the University of Zambia (UNZA) are symptoms of ills that need to be corrected immediately. And UNZA deputy vice-chancellor Dr Wilson Mwenya has asked the Committee to give the institution's current management a benefit of doubt and not judge them from the failings of previous managers.

Following a submission of a memorandum by Ministry of Education permanent secretary Lillian Kapulu before the Committee on the report of the Auditor General on the accounts of parastatal bodies for 2006, Milupi said the report on UNZA's account was the worst in the land in terms of financial management.

Kapulu submitted that it was regrettable that the institution had failed to prepare accounts for the financial years 1998 to 2006 and that basic accounting records such as cashbooks, bank reconciliations were not up-to-date.

However, Kapulu said financial statements for the years 1998 and 1999 have been completed and that the 2000 accounts would be ready by the end of this year.

Kapulu further regretted that three former University employees namely, Professor Nkandu Luo, Dr Ndashi Chitalu and Alex Chama irregularly bought houses belonging to the institution despite resigning to join active politics.

"The houses have since been paid for in full by Professor Nkandu Luo and Mr Alex Chama. Dr Ndashi Chitalu made a part payment of K15 million leaving a balance of K5,700, 000 as at January 17, 2002," she said.

Kapulu also disclosed that the university management was considering courses of action to take against Sylvia Professional Catering Services Limited following the company’s failure to pay rentals, water and electricity charges in respect of its use of the main dining hall at UNZA since October 2000 amounting to K294,950,000.
Kapulu said the upper and uppermost dining halls have already been withdrawn from the company.

Kapulu said it was regrettable that funds amounting to K810,000,000 were misappropriated during the period under review and that some suspects were already appearing in the courts of law.
Kapulu said committees had been set up to strengthen the weak financial controls at UNZA.

But Milupi and other members of the Committee expressed disappointment and worry at what was contained in the report.
"If you were a company, you would have gone bankrupt a long time ago," Milupi said.

Milupi said he hoped to see a better report from the institution next year.

Siavonga UPND member of parliament Douglas Syakalima attributed the financial loopholes at UNZA on the doings of some people within the middle management level, whom he said had formed a corrupt vicious circle of collusion and connivance.

Syakalima said the properties that some of these people own were questionable given their salary scales.

And Dr Mwenya admitted that mistakes had been made in the past and that the current management at the institution was working round the clock to bring sanity in its financial aspects.

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